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How long has it taken new NFL owners to fire head coaches?

An exploration

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Anxiously awaiting the prospect that a new owner of Washington’s football franchise absolutely cleans house once he (or she) takes over, I thought it would be worth a look back at how that process has gone the past several times that NFL franchises have changed hands. What follows below is a look back, in chronological order, at how long it took new owners to replace their head coach in the last five instances.

NFL Football Broncos vs Chiefs at Empower Field Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

2022: Denver Broncos

New owners: Rob Walton (and others)

Sale date: August 9, 2022

Head coach: Nathaniel Hackett

Date fired: December 26, 2022

Days employed: 139 days

I was shocked by the restraint of Walton and his co-owners in the case of Hackett. It looked to me like he should have been fired about a month into the season. Nevertheless, they had eventually seen enough before the season even ended. At 4-11 when Hackett was dismissed, the Broncos are on pace to have their worst record in over a decade, after having just invested a massive amount of draft capital and cap space in Russell Wilson this past offseason. GM George Paton should probably be looking over his shoulder as well.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

2018: Carolina Panthers

New owner: David Tepper

Sale date: July 9, 2018

Head coach: Ron Rivera

Date fired: December 3, 2019

Days employed: 512 days

Washington fans recall how their early December victory over the Panthers in 2019 prompted the firing of Ron Rivera two days later. Billionaire investor David Tepper stuck with Rivera for over a year and half, but eventually he had seen enough of the same nonsense that we’ve been graced with over the past three seasons. Tepper thanked Rivera for his time, and decided to scour the college ranks for his next head coach, Matt Rhule. Rhule lasted two seasons and 5 games before being fired this year.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

2014: Buffalo Bills

New owners: Kim & Terry Pegula

Sale date: October 10, 2014

Head coach: Doug Marrone

Date quit: December 31, 2014

Days employed: 82 days

When the Pegulas bought the Bills from the estate of notorious cheapskate Ralph Wilson in 2014, Doug Marrone was in the midst of leading the team to its first winning season in a decade. Strangely enough, Marrone decided to bail at the end of 2014, invoking a clause allowed by his contract:

At the end of the 2014 season, it was revealed that Marrone had a three-day “out” clause in his contract in the event of an ownership change;[16] the clause was triggered by the sale of the Bills in 2014 after the death of the Bills’ founder and long-time owner Ralph Wilson.[17] Marrone exercised the out clause and quit on December 31, 2014, and still collected his 2015 salary in full.[18] After Marrone quit, several players expressed their displeasure and disgust with both the decision and the way that he informed the team.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

2012: Cleveland Browns

New owners: Jimmy & Dee Haslam

Sale date: October 25, 2012

Head coach: Pat Shurmur

Date fired: December 31, 2012

Days employed: 67 days

Shurmur had been hired in early 2011, on account of his play calling prowess. That year, he was charged with grooming third round draft pick, Colt McCoy. Regardless, the Browns would go 4-12 in his inaugural season. In late October 2012, the Haslams would buy the Browns and allow Shurmur to ride out the season, going 5-11. The Haslams had seen enough, and fired Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert Jr. on New Year’s Eve.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Oakland Raiders Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

2012: Jacksonville Jaguars

New owners: Shahid Khan

Sale date: January 4, 2012

Head coach: Mike Mularkey

Date fired: January 10, 2013

Days employed: 371 days

Mularkey was hired by Khan about a week after finalizing the purchase of the Jaguars in 2012. As an interesting historical footnote, Jack Del Rio had been fired as head coach of the Jags the previous November. Mularkey proceeded to lead the team to its worst season in franchise history at the time - a 2-14 record - and was fired with two years remaining on his contract.


NFL teams don’t change hands frequently, making this data set fairly small, but one thing is abundantly clear: When they do change hands, the head coach in charge rarely sticks around for more than one season after the transition. Rivera’s experience in Carolina is actually the outlier, with all four other coaches lasting a season or less.

The situation that seems to most closely mirror what is likely to go down in DC is the 2012 Jacksonville example, where Khan brought in his own coach, because the position was essentially vacant at the time. The 2012 Browns example is similar, in some respects, as well, with the Haslams taking control well into the season.

With a March timetable for purchase appearing to be the most likely right now, the future Washington owner will be breaking new ground. It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation, but I hold out hope for a totally new beginning.


How long do you expect Ron Rivera to remain as head coach/football czar once new ownership takes over?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    I expect him to be fired immediately.
    (488 votes)
  • 14%
    Two to three months.
    (189 votes)
  • 43%
    Through the 2023 season.
    (553 votes)
  • 4%
    Through his full contract (2024).
    (54 votes)
1284 votes total Vote Now